15 October 2013

Go-ahead for Connor's Court

Planning permission has been granted for a new seafront multisports arena in memory of local footballer Connor Saunders.

Nineteen year old Connor died in April last year, after being punched on a night out.

The court, based in Rottingdean led by the Play Area in Rottingdean Committee charity, will give young people a place to take part in sports like football, basketball and cricket and will be open to everyone. Local residents are also being asked about how the project could develop.

Estimated total cost is £70,000. All of this money is being raised by PARC with help from Connor's family and the Connor Saunders Foundation in his memory. The Argus Appeal has pledged £5,000 towards the cost and PARC hopes to raise the remaining money soon.

Now that planning permission has been granted PARC are hoping the work will start on site in March 2014 and the court will be open by Easter. PARC plans to hold a grand opening in celebration of the court and Connor.

The arena will be located on the site of the enclosed swimming pool built in 1935. The pool was damaged by storms in 1990 and has since been filled in with concrete leaving a plain open space.

Local residents have expressed their support for the facility and the Saunders family through a series of charity events.

Connor’s mum, Darran Saunders said: “My family are so very grateful to PARC for their continued support. We are so grateful to the planning committee for passing Connor’s Court. It will be a fantastic meeting place for the community to play football, basketball and cricket in great surroundings. “

After his death Connor saved five lives through organ donations, leading local people to adopt the phrase “5 is alive” in tribute.

Darran added: “Connor will be very proud - 5 is alive.”  

Chair of the Economic Development and Culture committee Cllr Geoffrey Bowden said;  “I’m delighted this project is going ahead, it will not only be a great facility for the city but a fitting tribute to a young man who was dedicated to sport.”

The Arena measures 28 metres x 16 metres with a one-metre high fence. There will be a higher fence behind the basketball hoops to act as a shield to passing pedestrians. The court and railings will be blue in tribute to Connor who was a devoted Chelsea fan, as well as matching the existing basketball court further west on Brighton seafront. The railings of the court will be marine grade quality steel with a five year guarantee making it more environmentally friendly for the local area by saving repair costs.